Two intertwined factors have been the difference in the title race this season; the ease in which Chelsea transitioned to a 3-4-3 formation whilst Manchester City and Manchester United were getting grips to life with new philosophies and, inherently linked, the simply superb form of N’Golo Kante.
The Frenchman was at the heart of Leicester City’s miraculous title win last season and is now on course to become the first player in Premier League history to win the crown with separate clubs in consecutive campaigns. By no means a coincidence, Kante’s industry offers a distinct advantage; the freedom to play with two rather than three in the engine room, allowing for another slot in attack.
Indeed, midfielders of Kante’s variety were once overlooked as being too small and too mindless, careering around the middle of the park like headless chickens. But Kante has put the relentless ankle nippers back in vogue and every major club in the Premier League will be keeping their eyes peeled for like-minded incarnates this summer as they look to stop the beginnings of a dynasty in west London.
One player seemingly falling into that remit already is the man Leicester signed in January as Kante’s direct replacement – the prodigious Wilfred Ndidi, who arrived from Genk in a £17million deal. The 20-year-old took a little while to find his groove at the King Power Stadium but over the last few weeks has truly hit top gear, coming to a head with a stunning strike against Stoke City last Saturday.
According to Mirror Football, Arsenal and Manchester United are already sniffing around the Nigerian international and it’s not hard to see why. As our infographic shows, there’s certainly been a Kante-esque element to his Premier League performances thus far, producing an almost super-human tackle return alongside two interceptions and four clearances per match.
But Ndidi’s nine outings thus far suggest he can also offer what Kante’s often accused of lacking – consistent influence in the final third. He’s already notched up one goal and one assist for the Foxes – taking two shots at goal per match – and seems more comfortable than the Chelsea man when he ends up in the pocket just in front of the opposition penalty box.
It will be a tough task convincing Leicester to sell after just six months, but Ndidi looks like a real player – one Arsenal and Manchester United might seriously regret missing out on if they don’t act this summer.